Review: Thomas Was Alone – An Ageing Indie Hit That Still Has Something To Say

Be there or be one of several different rectangles.

More than 10 years after its inception as a Flash game, Thomas Was Alone is now so much more than the puzzley, story-driven platformer it appears to be. It is an artefact of an interesting time in the progress of indie games; a time when lo-fi, hi-concept darlings made Twitter swoon week-to-week. Thomas Was Alone was one of those darlings, and the Switch release prompts a welcome retrospective on a game that has held up remarkably well as a thing to play, and equally well as an idea to contemplate.

Thomas Was Alone was created by British developer Mike Bithell and released at a time when indie gaming was just about breaking into the mainstream in a big way. Mobile internet and social media were in full swing, providing the conditions for breakout hits to overrun the gaming conversation, and consoles’ online stores brought wider, mainstream distribution within reach of the smallest developers. By 2013, Thomas Was Alone and its DLC were on both PS Vita and PlayStation 3 – yes, in those days you needed two consoles!

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